Little Willie John

Sure Things

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Big-voiced R&B singer Little Willie John's 1961 record Sure Things contained his biggest pop hit yet, the charming "Sleep," which introduced strings to his sound. The rest of the album follows in the orchestrated footsteps at least part of the time. The strings back John as he essays a swooning cover of "A Cottage for Sale," the very poppy "I'm Sorry," a swinging "The Very Thought of You," and a corny "Loving Care." It is interesting to hear John's wondrously powerful voice in these restrained settings, but the real thrill comes from the rest of the record, which includes some of the best performances of his career. "My Love Is" is a "Fever" retread with just bass, drums, and finger snaps, and one of John's best vocals; "I Like to See My Baby" is a jaunty R&B jumper; "There's a Difference" is a happy doo wop-styled ballad. Best of all are the last two tracks on the record. The incendiary, moody blues "You Hurt Me" is very tough, John sounds ready to break things up, and the guitarist is right there with him; "I'm Shakin'" is an R&B rocker with a raw as uncooked-meat vocal and a knockout blow of a hook. The consistent high quality of the material and the strong performances make this disc highly desirable to Little Willie John fans and fans of first rate R&B, as well.

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